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Official figures show: More than 300,000 addresses in Germany are at risk of flooding

Buildings in flood areas must be specially protected. This requires comprehensive preventive measures. There should also be a clear construction ban on new buildings in flood zones.

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The study shows quite specifically how immense the flood risk is in the regions and what disaster potential this has created. "Although the figures are official and publicly known, prevention is not on the political agenda. The only debate is about the introduction of compulsory insurance against natural hazards", said GDV Deputy CEO Anja Käfer-Rohrbach. "Due to climate change and the more frequent occurrence of extreme weather events, damage running into the billions is inevitable." 

Against this backdrop, insurers are calling for a ban on new construction in high-risk areas. "It is dangerous that building land continues to be designated in flood areas and new construction is allowed", said Käfer-Rohrbach. "In addition to the enormous risks that already exist, other risks exist as well. We now need a clear legal ban on building in flood zones." 

GDV is also calling for existing buildings in high-risk areas to be specially protected against flooding. "There are clear regulations for technical flood protection in the public sector - but these must be applied consistently in practice. In addition, the federal, state and local authorities must promote and adequately fund prevention measures", Käfer-Rohrbach said. 

Federal states and regions affected differently 

According to the study, Saxony has the highest proportion of vulnerable addresses of all the federal states. Almost three percent of the addresses there are located in flood zones. This is followed by Thuringia with around 2.7% and Rhineland-Palatinate with 2%. Schleswig-Holstein (0.16), Hamburg (0.08) and Berlin (0.04) are the least affected. 

At the district level, the District of Cochem-Zell in Rhineland-Palatinate is the most endangered. There, 10.5 percent of addresses are located in flood zones. Gera (9.7) and Koblenz (9.1) are in second and third place. 

The situation varies greatly throughout Germany. There are districts with many bodies of water but little development, such as the District of Mecklenburgische Seenplatte, where only 79 addresses are at risk of flooding. The Districts of Ahrweiler and Cochem-Zell in Rhineland-Palatinate, which are heavily populated along the Ahr and Moselle Rivers, Dresden on the Elbe and the District of Euskirchen on the Erft in North Rhine-Westphalia are much more severely affected. 

Consistently implementing climate impact adaptation 

In light of this, insurers have drawn up a list of requirements for comprehensive natural hazard protection. The paper supplements the solution proposed by insurers for a holistic insurance concept for natural hazards in Germany.  

The compulsory insurance solution promoted by the federal states does not contribute to solving the problem.  "With a strict insurance solution, the costs required for this are mainly borne by property owners and the community of insured persons", Käfer-Rohrbach said. 

About the investigation:   

On behalf of GDV, VdS Schadenverhütung GmbH investigated how many of the approximately 22.4 million addresses in Germany are located in flood zones and how they are distributed among the districts and federal states. The public data were provided by authorities such as the state environmental agencies. The current status of the data is noted on the corresponding cards. Nationwide, over 80 percent of buildings at risk in accordance with the Water Resources Management Act (§ 76 WHG) are located in provisionally secured or officially designated flood zones. The remaining 20 percent are also at risk of flooding and are located in so-called “flood hazard areas” in accordance with § 74 WHG. The same evaluation was carried out for each federal state and the five rural or urban districts per federal state with the highest proportion of addresses in flood zones and flood hazard areas. Legally, it makes a considerable difference whether an address is located in an endangered area in accordance with § 78 WHG or in a flood hazard area in accordance with § 74 WHG. § 78 WHG prohibits the designation of new construction areas in urban land-use plans or other statutes in accordance with the Federal Code. However, the law allows for numerous exceptions, as defined in § 78(2) WHG.

You can find further information here.

Kathrin Jarosch (© Christian Kruppa / GDV)
Kathrin Jarosch
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